Government asks food industry to cut calories to tackle obesity

Government’s proposed calorie reduction programme aims to help prevent obesity-related morbidity and mortality among adults and children.

Take-out pizza

Source: Carlton Reid

Steve Brine, public health and social care minister, said the calorie reduction programme was “the first of its kind in the world”

The government is asking the food industry to reduce the calorie count in pizza and other ready meals and on-the-go snacks by 20% by 2024 to help cut the number of people dying from obesity-related disease.

If industry co-operates, the number of obesity-related deaths avoided in five years would be 35,370 saving £4.5 billion healthcare costs over 25 years and a similar amount from the social care bill, according to a report ‘Calorie reduction: the scope and ambition for action’ published by Public Health England (PHE) on Tuesday 6 March 2018.

The report also recommends that adults should aim to eat 400 calories at breakfast and 600 calories for dinner and for lunch, as part of a total daily calorie intake of 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.

Overweight and obese children also need to eat fewer calories, said PHE. According to the report in 2016 to 2017, almost a quarter (22.6%) of children in primary school aged 4–5 years, and more than a third (34.2%) aged 10–11 years, were overweight or obese. These children, it found, consumed between 140 and 500 more daily calories when compared with their peers who have a healthy body weight.

Public health and social care minister, Steve Brine, whose responsibilities include pharmacy, said the calorie reduction programme was the first of its kind in the world, saying, “we have a responsibility to act, which is why we are supporting families to make the healthy choice”.

Duncan Selbie, PHE chief executive added: “The simple truth is that on average we need to eat less. Children and adults routinely eat too many calories and it’s why so many are overweight or obese.

“Industry can help families by finding innovative ways to lower the calories in the food we all enjoy and promoting UK business leadership on the world stage in tackling obesity.”

PHE is now looking at which food categories to include in the calorie-reduction programme. Its recommendations will be put out for consultation later this year before being finalised in 2019.

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Citation
The Pharmaceutical Journal, Government asks food industry to cut calories to tackle obesity;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20204507